LONDON - Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, criticised UK regulators on Thursday for the swift approval of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, a day after the authorisation was announced in London. Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Wednesday it had conducted a thorough assessment of the vaccine before granting its emergency use. "You know I love the Brits, they're great, they're good scientists, but they just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinising it really, really carefully, they said OK, let's approve it, that's it, and they went with it," Fauci said in footage shown on UK news channels. He said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was the regulatory gold standard and that the agency was assessing the vaccine data very carefully, which he called appropriate. "Because if we did anything that was cutting corners and rushing, we have enough problems with people being sceptical about taking a vaccine anyway," Fauci said. The scepticism comes from a significant proportion of Americans who reject medical science, as well as from those wary of the safety of vaccines developed at record speed. "If we had jumped over the hurdle here quickly and inappropriately to gain an extra week or a week and a half, I think that the credibility of our regulatory process would have been damaged," Fauci added. In response to Fauci's criticism, the MHRA issued a statement saying that it had "rigorously assessed the data in the shortest time possible without compromising the thoroughness of our review". The regulator also said its emergency approval had allowed "some stages of this process to happen in parallel to condense the time needed, but it does not mean steps and the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been bypassed". Fauci is the most high-profile member of the White House coronavirus task force and has often clashed with President Donald Trump on how to protect Americans from the virus. He was due to meet members of President-elect Joe Biden's team on Thursday. REUTERS
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